Ecopoetics Along Shorelines


May 21, 2018

As an orca (and therefore apparently responsible, as a species, for a majority of adult Chinook consumption, see fig. 3) I have to wonder why human fishers don’t also appear on this chart? Aren’t you guys also consuming adult Chinook? Based on figure 4 it looks like “fisheries,” which I take to mean people, accounts for nearly as much consumption as all the marine mammals combined. So why not put people on the chart in figure 3 too? After all, I think these are our “usual and accustomed fishing grounds” too – shouldn’t we get at least 50% of the fish?

May 7, 2018

Muñoz’s final line, contrasting “being gay” with “queerness,” challenges the presumption that these are synonymous or even parallel concepts. “Being gay,” in the era after what Muñoz calls “gay liberation,” is perhaps no longer a deviant sexuality, at least not so deviant as it was in the 1960s (Is “liberation” itself the “not-yet-here?” Will it ever be here?) This stands apart from “queerness” as surplus, in the sense of excess or “deviance from conventional forms” – that is, as something that has nothing necessarily to do with sex, and also as something that one cannot and should not be “liberated” from.

April 28, 2018

Dipesh Chakrabarty’s question, “who is the we?” at work in the conception of human self-understanding as species, strikes me as exemplary of the idea of self-understanding as a kind of taking (comprehendere). To understand oneself (as a species, as a “we”) is to grasp the whole of humanity, its universality, and to wrap yourself in it. By contrast, Stacy Alaimo’s effort to understand across species (to contemplate your shell on acid (even though you do not, technically speaking, have a shell)) might be thought as a self-break: a reconnection to humanity-as-identity, by giving-on-and-with those on-and-with whom you do not identify.

April 15, 2018

While Strayer et al. focus on “ecological” boundaries, Sze et al. question the conceptual boundary-making between the social and the natural that underpins ecological science, examining the Delta as socio-nature. This conceptual unbounding is intertwined with a simultaneous geographic unbounding of the Delta, drawing on “critical analyses of political injustice… at the scale of the global.” Not merely a singular, contiguous place, the Delta is produced by processes and relations across a range of scales. Taken together, the dismantling of these two sets of boundaries works to entangle the categories of “the economy” (social, global) and “the environment” (natural, local).

April 2, 2018

“Finishing” nature is the modernist project of straightening, simplifying: rivers flowing straight to the sea, crops coming up in rows, people who stand in line and pay their taxes on time. All of history would seem to lead inexorably to this achievement – but what comes after utopia? Tafoya’s vision of the future points to the hubris of Western scientific modernism, imagining still-alive (un-finished?) Indians unearthing the remnants of a past civilization that considered itself futuristic. Like a meandering river, this version of time turns back on itself, cuts off its own bends, leaves behind oxbow remnants to become ghostly wetlands.

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